Friday, 3 October 2008

The Religious Affections - 7: the twelve unreliable signs - a summary

So, I've finished the Part II of the book, The Religious Affections.
As much as I would like to give you more comprehensive details about all these, I think my attempt will only diminish the insight Edwards had in writing. So I encourage you to read the book yourself. It isn't as hard as you might expect.

That said, I'll put the twelve unreliable signs found in the Part II of the book in my own words, in hope that it will give you an introductory insight into these matters.
First thing first though, you will have to read the book to understand what Edwards means by "the religious affections", but let me simply use a different, common phrase, "Love for God" to keep it simple. This phrase, "Love for God" carries so much misunderstandings these days and I suspect for many of us that it conjures up only an incomplete picture. I hope you will meditate deeply on what that "Love for God" really means biblically. Perhaps I will post up what I have found so far some time, but at this point, let me simply say that this love for God must be both emotion and actions. Some neglect one or the other and distorts the meaning of love, keep guard against such teachings.

So, these are unreliable signs, that is to say, that we cannot draw any conclusions about a person's spiritual state, whether he is truly saved, or not, whether their new-found zeal and hope, joy, or any other good qualities are in fact rooted in true grace from God.
1) The fact that a person has a very strong love for God is no reliable sign.
2) The fact that the love for God is making great physical effects on the person is no reliable sign.
3) The fact that the person can articulate their experience of love for God precisely and with zeal is no reliable sign.
4) The fact that we didn't try to and/or make ourselves to love God is no reliable sign.
5) The fact that these love for God is accompanied by the bible passages popping up in your head is no reliable sign.
6) The fact that the person seems to show love for others is no reliable sign.
7) The fact that love for God shows up in many different ways is no reliable sign.
8) The fact that there was a specific sequence of emotions that came to the person which ended up in joy is no reliable sign.
9) The fact that a person gives much time with much zeal in church/ministry activities is no reliable sign.
10) That the person loves to sing His praises and worship God is no reliable sign.
11) That the person is very confident and sure of his love for God and of his salvation is no reliable sign.
12) That the person has an amazing or heart-warming testimony is no reliable sign.

I hope this list got you interested in what Edwards is saying in his book. Oh, and I hope you are not under a wrong impression that all these signs mean your love for God is not genuine. The items on this list are UNRELIABLE signs, which means that if your love for God is genuine and true, you might have these signs/symptoms. It is just that we cannot draw any conclusions from these signs whether your love for God is true or not.

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